Friday, 4 May 2018

The Zing of Spring. Edinburgh's City to Sea Walk. Botanics to Granton Harbour.

                                               ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN.
Part two of my walk across Edinburgh from city to sea. Still in the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Different coloured daffodils.
More magnolia.
A glimpse of the glasshouses.
Even outside in people's gardens I still had plenty of colour to look at. Lovely two tone rose here.
On the edge of the Botanic Gardens looking towards the spire of Fettes College, an upmarket boarding/ day school for the elite, the great, and the good, providing the UK's politicians, lawyers, judges, rugby stars etc. Probably, most famously, Tony Blair attended here. It is a stunning example of elaborate architecture with loads of little windows climbing dramatically up the sides of the spire.
A view from the main entrance gates at the Botanics looking towards Edinburgh Castle on its hill top volcanic basalt plug of rock.
As my leg was getting sore I cheated here slightly and got a number 8 bus on Inverleith Row towards Granton and Pilton for several stops, getting dropped off near the harbour.  A descending flight of steps at the start of Boswell Road led me down to Granton Harbour on the Firth of Forth, or more precisely- Granton's Eastern Breakwater.
Built in the mid 1800s from sizable blocks of stone, some weighting close to a ton if not more, it surely qualifies as a mega structure in its own right and the reason I decided to end my walk here. Jutting one full km out to sea this breakwater is one long curving crab's claw with the Western Breakwater also curving round to meet it from the other side, providing shelter inside the pincers for hundreds of boats, if necessary.
Before the nearby Leith docks expanded to the size they are today industrial feeling Granton took on the challenge of being the city's main workhorse, deep-water port and harbour with a large fishing fleet, dozens of cargo boats, timber and coal jetties, passenger steamers etc... docking, departing and unloading here. Throughout the 1800s and right up until the Second World War/ 1970s it was still a busy place.
Nowadays it's much quieter with little sea traffic use except pleasure boats and as a platform for new apartment buildings with a view out to sea.
Granton itself is a strange mix of older traditional cottages, seen here, fine Victorian seaside mansions and new build apartment flats. While Glasgow is steadily demolishing most of its high rise housing stock, older council tenements,  high rise flats, deck access towers etc.... Edinburgh appears to be embracing these ideas with gusto- provided they are built for sale to young professional types I presume. It's always interesting to note the contrasts between the various Scottish cities in history, planning, ideology and ambition. Edinburgh does seems to go in for modern circular towers a lot and tenements five, nine, or eleven floors high- Glasgow hardly ever does that. Two, three, or four floors there at the most..or hi rise blocks...nothing in-between.  Traditional. Solid. Dependable. Fingers badly burned after Glasgow's ill fated 1960s/ 1970s love affair with Le Corbusier and the utopian "cities in the sky" dream for housing the masses which often turned into hi rise ghettos of crime, abandonment, and isolation instead. So nothing too quirky nowadays. And no odd numbers or curve balls in architecture for the time being in Glasgow.
So we have Glasgow Harbour on the River Clyde- a cluster of rectangular shaped vertical apartments, mostly the same traditional height and general block style; all straight lines--- simple architecture.. up and down.... and Edinburgh has this...Platinum Point. A jumble of all different colours and levels with a few curves thrown in for good measure. And this is very conventional by Edinburgh building standards. They do like to go in for the unusual approach here.
The former Donaldson's School in Edinburgh also built in the mid 1800s for deaf pupils but now undergoing conversion into luxury apartments I learned recently. I'm fairly well travelled around Scotland but all I ever see nowadays is either large scale student apartments being built ( throughout central Glasgow near the various universities) or luxury accommodation. Where do ordinary folk live in cities these days I wonder? Are there any left out there at all as I never see houses going up for them on my various trips? I am being serious here as it puzzles me greatly.
Anyway, back to the Eastern Breakwater and Granton harbour. Fine views can be had from this structure but it does feel remote and abandoned any time I've been on it and a long way distance wise from the comparative safety of the city with no escape routes. Halfway out to the end point two concrete huts lie abandoned offering a good hiding place for sundry bad rascals or assorted females of slippy disposition to spend some time in judging by the inner contents so it does have a certain wild west edge to it out here. Which is why I like it! Wild West meets East on the Sunshine Coast.
I also like the patterns of lichen on the stone blocks. Natural artwork.
A close up view of the blocks and how they fit together. If you piled them up high they would make an impressively substantial pyramid of great height. Cleopatra or Arsinoe would feel right at home here, I'm sure. It would remind them of Egyptian stone masons no doubt, glistening bodies toiling away in the hot sun.
So as a tribute to them here's a small infinity pool created by me. A sunken depression in the stonework surrounded by yellow lichen which would fill with water after rainfall. I have added my own Alexandrian royal blue tint to the mix plus an island continent in the shape of a reclining ancient female/crone (i.e. a witch- it is J.K Rowling territory after all hereabouts) with red dots indicating city populations/harbours/ all seeing eyes. Better than most of the modern artwork I've observed recently anyway and too heavy a block to toss in a skip.
In fact the whole structure is an artwork. Rusted docking hook here.
The yellow edge of the breakwater.
Norwegian plane passing over Granton.
An island out on the Firth of Forth.
Sea lane traffic off Granton Docks.
Another form of art. St Anne's elaborately carved church doorway. Edinburgh. Included for another Anne of course. A modern queen.
Hygieia's Temple. St Bernard's Well. Water of Leith. Another ancient goddess and where we get the word hygiene from presumably.
Leaving Edinburgh behind and descending down into Dean Village Gorge on the sylvan Water of Leith walkway. A cracker of a day outing. Bus number 16  from seafront road back to Princes Street/ bus station/ city centre from Granton/ Ocean Terminal area. Around 4 to 6 hours total walk/ exploration city to sea. A five star  classic route.
Blue for the sea.


Anabel Marsh said...

Looks gorgeous. I don’t know that area much at all.

Kay G. said...

What beautiful photos. Of course, I only know this area because of your blog, so I am grateful to you! My father-in-law spent two years as a child in Edinburgh. He was evacuated there during World War II. I will tell him to look at this post!

Rosemary said...

What could be better than blue skies and blossom. We all deserve these treats following such cold and chilly winter months.

Carol said...

Amazed that Scotland is ahead of us Spring-wise - my magnolia isn't even thinking of coming out yet! Nor are the cherry trees... very late indeed!

What's up with your leg?

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Anabel,
I know the Cramond to Granton seafront fairly well as a popular cycle track/walkway runs along the coast there that I've used for decades although Granton is not really a tourist place. Leith docks have much more to see these days for visitors.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Kay,
You would like Edinburgh.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Rosemary,
We haven't had the warm temperatures enjoyed down south but it has been a dry month so far so I'm happy with that.

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Carol,
Edinburgh and the east coast is noted for sunshine and low rainfall. Glasgow's spring is just starting now by comparison, like your own, but they also have some of the finest gardeners in the UK at Edinburgh Botanics I would imagine- same as Kew in London so maybe that's another factor- rich well tended soil and perfect growing conditions.
Funnily enough in the papers today there's a report highlighting a 21 year gap in Edinburgh's life expectancy between the richest and poorest districts on average within the city which maybe mirrors the plant life between Botanic rich soil and council estate gardens in an uncanny way :o)

blueskyscotland said...

My leg/knee has not been right since the Corrour bothy coal walk but it is slowly recovering. Shows how much of the posts you actually read Carol- either that you have early onset dementia as I've mentioned my bad leg and how it happened for the last four posts :o)

Carol said...

Well I read so many blog posts per day I can't remember who has what wrong with them!

blueskyscotland said...

I never thought of that explanation mainly because I only ever read the half dozen or so blogs that reply to my posts. I spend enough time on the computer as it is.

Ian Johnston said...

Well observed and lovely images as ever Bob....I have a fascination with lichens and can spend what some folk would regard as an unhealthy amount of time staring at lichen patterns on boulders!


Weekend-Windup said...

Amazing shots!Beautiful buildings and blossoms:)

beatingthebounds said...

A marvellous, and very disparate, collections of photos. That looks like a very rewarding wander.

surfnslide said...

I like the look of the Fettes College building, if not the sort of people that it might churn out!

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Ian.

blueskyscotland said...

Thank You Weekend-Windup

blueskyscotland said...

Cheers Mark, It was indeed.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Andy,
that's the side on view... like the Houses of Parliament, the front elevation of the building is much more impressive and covers a larger area. Great architecture. I was once chased away from it with a "Hey, naff off you oik" from one of those little upper windows or words to that effect after I'd cycled in for a photograph. There was nothing to say you couldn't cycle in back then so I took my opportunity to explore the grounds beyond the gates :o)